KABUL, Afghanistan — The broken elevator at the Ministry of the Economy was not unexpected. A rolling blackout the night before had hit my downtown hotel, where taps ran dry depending on the time of day. But the blunt honesty of Minister Mohammad Jalil Shams had a sobering effect on an otherwise pleasant day in Kabul: Taliban insurgents and narcotics were this year’s bumper crops, he said, and if all goes well it will take at least a decade or two to win back public confidence eroded by a corrupt government that has failed to make good on promises of [...]
Kingston, JAMAICA — The screaming of the newly widowed let the people of Common know revenge had visited them that Monday morning. A fierce current, taking hold of the Caribbean basin, lashed rolls of thunder and heavy rainfall down upon the tough uptown community’s ramshackle buildings. Flyposting, advertising downtrodden reggae dancehalls and erotica clubs, grew soggy and limpid, giving way to graffiti tags sprayed on the walls underneath. A congealed sludge of soil skimmed along the streetscape, dirt and leaves clogging in the strip of potholes and fissures that passes for Red Hills Road. A lone jerk vendor, braving the [...]
Kenyans heaved a collective sigh of relief this month following President Mwai Kibaki’s rejection of a huge pay raise given to him by the country’s sleaze-ridden parliament. Kibaki, the country’s third president, caved in to public pressure Dec. 13 and declined a hefty salary increase that would have netted him more than $44,000 a month. But Kenyans remain suspicious of their corrupt politicians, always scheming to rob the public purse. The country has reportedly lost over $1 billion — nearly a fifth of its state budget — to corruption since Kibaki took office in 2002. Elected on an anti-corruption ticket [...]
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